Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. For those avid followers of fantasy baseball, September can be a rather feast or famine time of year. If you are in contention, then each and every night’s outcomes become magnified as every new home run and stolen base could be the difference between the penthouse and the outhouse. In the event success failed to find you in 2016; you’ve either consumed yourself with RB timeshares or logged on only for the purpose of self-torture, hoping a mental cleansing will have your focus on point for 2017. If only there was something that could lure contenders and non-contenders alike. What if I told you that the greatest fake game was no longer bounded by a calendar date? I would start with a “Thank you”, followed quickly by, “Where do I sign up?”
The Keeper League format has grown in popularity over the last two to three seasons – maybe longer. Each league comes with its own unique setup, requirements, and keeper opportunity cost. With this in mind it can be rather difficult establishing universal keeper guidelines that can be helpful to all. Today’s post will focus on players who many valued as Keeper worthy last season, but may not be such a no-brainer decision for 2017.
In order to get a market value idea on “keeper worthy” players, I used the top-60 players according to NFBC ADP. “Why Top 60″ you ask? I personally have two requirements for keeper consideration: player must have the value of a 1st-5th round pick, or a future ceiling of a top 25-30 player overall. Five players seem like a universal number for keeper leagues; 12 teams is a rather standard league size; 12×5=60 – alas, Top-60 players just felt right.
In an Academy Award-worthy scene in Varsity Blues, Julie Harbor told John Moxon, “…..Things change Mox, you’re the QB now.” NFBC ADP will go through the same process from year to year. Last season Matt Harvey, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Upton, Chris Archer, Zach Greinke, Carlos Gomez, Felix Hernandez, and Troy Tulowitzki were among the Top 60 in NFBC ADP. At the very least 9 out of these 10 will not have a repeat in that ADP range for 2017. Francisco Lindor, Brian Dozier, Rougned Odor, Daniel Murphy and Will Myers all found themselves outside of the top-60 last season. I would be shocked if not every one of those names doesn’t find themselves on it for 2017.
While those clear-cut player options can be rather simple, some aren’t that easy. How do you handle the 2016 struggles of Andrew McCutchen or Miguel Sano? How do I evaluate the mixed time of Dee Gordon or AJ Pollock moving forward? Both are questions many fantasy owners are currently asking on a daily basis.
This week I’m going to take a look at players whose ADP was among the Top 60 going into the 2016 season. Players who many likely targeted as keepers for years to come, but for whatever reasons that commitment may find it wavering at this point. Are they worth the investment made, or are you better off cutting your losses and moving on to the next best hope.
* Number to Left of Players Name is NFBC ADP for 2016.
14. Andrew McCutchen – I was concerned with McCutchen returning draft day value this season, and those concerns have been affirmed. The optimist would point to his .291 BABIP (.331 Career) and suggest better days are ahead. The pessimist would look at the decreased walk rate, increased strikeout rate, and career high Soft percentage heading into his age 30 season. He’ll improve; you just shouldn’t pay a Keeper premium for him.
17. Dee Gordon – I have no idea what PED’s do for a player. Obviously they help players; otherwise, what’s the point? Yet given the names of players who have been suspended it’s been proven that Marvin Bernard doesn’t instantly become Barry Bonds. I chalk up Gordon’s struggles this season (.257/.292/.316) to the suspension – nothing more, nothing less. I wouldn’t pay a premium to keep Gordon as I feel his draft day value will be cheaper relative to last season. I would target Gordon as a keeper if there is value to be had in terms or dollar amounts or draft round compensation.
18. Jose Abreu – The more I look at Abreu’s 2016, the more I realize it’s like every other Abreu season thus far. A slight decrease in home runs has been traded off for improved walk and strikeout percentage with a real chance at .300. You’re not excited about keeping Abreu, but unless zero-doubt options exist, Abreu’s production is keeper worthy.
19. Buster Posey – Solid average with good contact skills all while playing the Catcher position. All wonderful things to own in a fantasy league. Posey’s contact drives his value. In a point format, his value among his peers would call for Keeper consideration, especially in a two-catcher format. In a two-catcher format Posey has the ability to carry the position at times single-handedly. In a standard scoring league, however, I personally take a different approach. I want big totals; HR, RBI, Runs, SB… it doesn’t’ matter; just give me something to build around. Posey’s stellar numbers are great, but the gap between him and the 7th- or 8th- best Catcher, doesn’t make up for the 10-12 HR, 20 RBI, 25 Runs, that I lose by selecting Posey over the likes of Jose Abreu. You’re paying for peace of mind.
23. Chris Davis – The overall counting numbers are devalued this season, but 40 HR still carries value. For me Davis isn’t the type of player you can project batting average with. Over the last 6 seasons he has hit over .260 four times and under .225 twice. He’d be closer to a 50th rank for me than 25th, so obviously if better options exist it’s not to a point where Davis is a must keep. Much like Abreu your likely not excited about Davis, but you’ll be happy with the outcomes.
26. Jose Bautista – Joey Bats will fail to reach 120 games once again as those durability issues that plagued a few of his prime seasons will resurface. To complicate matters Free Agency could send Bautista to a less desirable ballpark than the Rogers Centre. Combine the two and I’m not sold on the outlook for Bautista with Keeper premiums attached with him. All that without mentioning he’ll be 36 in October.
32. David Price – 16 Wins, with a third consecutive season of 200+ innings. The ratios are nearly identical to last year, yet the ERA of 3.81 is 1.36 points higher than last season. I still value Price as a back-end SP1. The only problem is that list can be rather extensive. With the potential for profit at a minimum, Price would not be a keeper target unless my options were minimal.
34. AJ Pollock – Had Pollock returned and put the injury in the rearview, his draft stock would have remained unchanged. Now you have a player who is returning from injury and his quality of play has suffered from it. Pollock has the upside of a top-20 player for me, thus should Pollock have value associated with his draft day price/premium then he would certainly warrant keeper consideration for me. Should Pollock not have any potential value to you I’d propose throwing him back into the player pool in hopes better value will find you.
41. Todd Frazier – Similar statline to Chris Davis: nice power with an unsightly batting average. Frazier’s been victimized by a poor average in the past, but the .214 level this season has a lot to do with the ghastly and mathematically unlikely .219 BABIP. Despite the low average you’re still looking at a real 40 home run threat that will likely finish 80/90 with double-digit stolen bases. Generally speaking 30/15 players are fantasy gold. I wouldn’t classify Frazier as such, but the top of the second 3B tier is worthy of a Top 60 billing without question.
46. Carlos Carrasco – From a skills standpoint I’ve loved Carrasco since the 2014 season. Though his skill set has remained the same, his overall results have been rather bland. His 183.2 innings is his career high. For his career he’s a below .500 starting pitcher, and his ERA over the last three seasons is 3.21. Make no mistake, a 3.21 is better than respectable; it’s just in today’s game it would seem that multiple starters feature an ERA below 3.00. I would tier Carrasco right along the David Price range, a back-end SP1. That has value, but that value just shouldn‘t have keeper value to go with it.
51. Lorenzo Cain – In 2015 Lorenzo Cain finally flashed a bit of the power many scouts had predicted would come. While 16 home runs isn’t exactly like having McGwire in the 4 hole, when it’s paired with 28 steals, 100+ runs, and an average north of .300 you have yourself quite a player. Injuries have limited Cain to 103 Games, and with that decline has come a decrease in stolen bases and a slight drop in average. Even at his best, players such as Cain aren’t typically high on my priority list. Plus speed and decent pop can often be found in-season on the wire. I’d rather fill keeper request with higher upside plays, rather than players whose value in many ways is built on volume.
60. Miguel Sano – Regardless of sport, the unknown generates the most excitement among the fantasy community. Sano’s was this season’s ________ (fill in the blank with past season’s prospect), the next great young hitter in the game. Sano has yet to have lived up to any billing thus far. His K rate of 35.5% is a clone to his 2015 mark, and his walk rate has decreased by 4.5%. With 335 PA under his belt in 2015 at the least you’d expect improvements in those areas, but that has yet to have been the case. If you take only next year into consideration then in no way, shape, or form should Sano be considered among those in keeper discussions. Long term, however, I view Sano as a top-tier home run option, who will settle in to being a .250-.270 hitter. The Twins have some interesting long-term solutions for that lineup, thus the long-term outlook for Sano as a middle of the order bat looks promising. Should the 30 home run pop come, along with the batting average, then given the supporting players you could be looking at a legit 30/90/100/.260 player, right? That type of production could at least flirt with Top 30 discussion, putting Sano under the umbrella of players worthy of keeper consideration.
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